KAI established “kai manufacturing India pvt. ltd.” in 2012. With offices in Gurugram and plants in Neemrana, both are found in the Delhi metropolitan area. Rajesh U Pandya has been appointed as Managing Director. And the division now has three products: “KAI Hocho (knife)”, “KAI Tsumekiri (nail clipper)” and “KAI Kamisori (razor)”. Each product keeps its original Japanese name. “In India, even if the names were written in Japanese, it is indistinguishable from Chinese”, Managing Director Pandya explained. “Therefore, the names were written with English characters. But I would still like to sell Japanese culture by keeping the Japanese name as it is. And I want to infiltrate these words as general nouns into India. In particular, I see strong potential in “KAI Tsumekiri”. Because the culture includes a lot of finger food, the nails must be kept clean. I want to advocate a “one for each” lifestyle by promoting nail clippers same as toothbrushes and bath towels. This idea spreads the concept of health and beauty”.
To start out, KAI India is making and selling three products in India, developing into a market of 1.3 billion people. The company wants to contribute to the social improvement of India by creating jobs and promoting a society where women can be active. Furthermore, the possibilities for the future are still expanding, including sales channels in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Rajesh U Pandya MD／After working for over 30 years at companies, such as “Carrefour”, “KidZania” and “Gakken”, he became Managing Director of “kai manufacturing India pvt. ltd.” in 2016. He is from the state of Gujarat, just like current Prime Minister Modi, who he has a personal and business relationship with. He likes design, art, and manufacturing.
The office, where about 30 employees are working, is on the top floor with a good view. In addition to this main floor, employees can use meeting rooms and a dining room.
Sales General Manager Yutaka Kawai and his colleagues in the office.
(Above) Kai holds a meeting every morning, where all of the employees read the corporate credo in Japanese. (Lower right) Each conference room is named after a Japanese factory, such as “Tawara” and “Oyana”. The employee cafeteria is called “Shokudo”. (Left middle) Photos of Saijiro Endo I and Saijiro Endo II are displayed next to Managing Director Pandya’s desk. (Lower left) On the wall, the corporate credo, company song, and the KAI Group slogan (Obey / Break / Separate) are also posted.
The plant is located a short distance from Delhi in a Rajasthan industrial estate. This area is dedicated to Japanese companies. Plant design and machine layout are the same as in Japan, but the insulation performance has been improved to withstand the climate, where temperatures rise to nearly 50 degrees Celsius. General Manager Akinori Numata is Production General Manager at the plant. He also goes around the plant and listens to the voices of his employees. “We are improving by incorporating work efficiency, which can only be understood on the factory floor," says Numata. Technical training was conducted at plants in Japan and Shanghai, giving the team new knowledge. As a result, the production of kitchen knives in Japan that are manufactured in Vietnam will move to India. The KAI Group is increasing production efficiency with such an international strategy.
The company is incorporating machine layouts that are no different from the Japanese plants.
Production General Manager Akinori Numata was assigned at kai manufacturing India pvt. ltd. after working as a plant manager in Shanghai and Oyana.
There are many KAI employees traveling from Japan. They offer technical guidance every day.
“kai manufacturing India pvt. ltd.” makes three main products. In India, it is common to cut ingredients in-hand instead of on a cutting board. That’s why “KAI Hocho” is small-sized knife. Because so many people eat with their fingers, “KAI Tsumekiri (nail clipper)” is equipped with a pick that can clean between your nails. And finally, “KAI Kamisori (razor)” is easy to use, even for those who have a thick beard. All items were developed in accordance with Indian culture. In addition, the abundant product colors can attract different generations.
In 2017, KAI opened a store in India's one of the largest shopping mall. It stands out as KAI’s first store in India and the company’s fifth store outside Japan. The store sells about 400 products, mainly focusing on “KAI Hocho”, “KAI Tsumekiri” and “KAI Kamisori”. These products are all manufactured in India.
“It’s important to know what effect the ingredients will have on your body. The chef must be responsible for it, in addition to making delicious food. As you deepen your knowledge, you will come to understand “locality”, meaning that good foods are grown according to the local climate. Similarly, seasonal foods help you get into good shape. These are the two most important factors for cooking and eating.”
“The knife is the most important. You can't borrow it. KAI knives are easy to use, because of their good balance of weight, not to mention sharpness,” says Manjit, who usually uses KAI knives.
Manjit Gill／Manjit Gill is the President of the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations and the head chef of the luxury Hotels chain, “ITC Hotels” in India. He promotes traditional Indian cuisine. In recent years, efforts have been made to nurture the next generation and raise the level of Indian cuisine. Look for the trademark red turban.